# Overview
# Presentation 
# Derawan # Diving Derawan
# Sangalaki # Manta rays # Sangalaki diving
# Kakaban # Jellyfish lake # Diving Kakaban
# Maratua # Diving Maratua
# Diving tips Derawan Islands
# Conditions and seasons
# Dive centers
# Accommodation
# Get to Derawan
# My diving review

The islands of the Derawan archipelago feature a variety of diving opportunities. I went mostly to dive with the manta rays of Sangalakibut the harmless jellyfish lake of Kakaban was also worth seeing, as well as the dives at Maratua and Kakaban. The destination is not yet well known, so everything was not easy to organize (going there, accommodation, go to sites ...).

Background: Derawan is part of my 3 month trip to Asia during which I wanted to do all the best diving spots. I stayed there for two weeks and did 8 dives.

Maratua 1-min


  • Sangalaki : manta ray cleaning stationderawan island-min
  • Manta ray best season : March to November
  • Kakaban : a lake filled with harmless jellyfish (there is only 1 other place like this in the world)
  • Diving in Derawan : not great
  • Diving in Sangalaki : except mantas, other dives are not worth it
  • Diving in Kakaban : only barracuda point, other dives are not worth it
  • Diving in Maratua : the best island to dive. The Big fish country site is absolutely to do!
  • Accommodation : on Derawan (see Maratua)
  • Get to : land in Borneo, reach Berau (airport), take the boat to Tanjung Batu
#Overview #Presentation #Derawan #Sangalaki #Manta rays #Kakaban #Jellyfish lake #Maratua #Advice #Conditions and seasons #Dive centers #Accommodation #Get to #My diving review


The archipelago of Derawan is located in the sea of Celebes off the coast of the Indonesian part of Borneo and understands 31 islands. Among the best known islands of Derawan, Sangalaki, Kakaban and Maratua.

Ou se trouve Derawan-min

#Overview #Presentation #Derawan #Sangalaki #Manta rays #Kakaban #Jellyfish lake #Maratua #Advice #Conditions and seasons #Dive centers #Accommodation #Get to #My diving review


# Derawan islandderawan vue dessus-min

The island of Derawan is the main island of the archipelago and the closest to the coast. It's here more developed and there where you will probably sleep.

Derawan according to wikipedia


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# Diving in Derawan

I did a dive in Derawan and that was enough for me! Not terrible… If you're experienced, I do not think it's worth diving into Derawan.

# Derawan dive sites

carte site de plongee derawan-min

#Overview #Presentation #Derawan #Sangalaki #Manta rays #Kakaban #Jellyfish lake #Maratua #Advice #Conditions and seasons #Dive centers #Accommodation #Get to #My diving review


# Sangalaki island

photo sangalaki-minSangalaki is a beautiful little island which has superb beaches and which is surrounded by a splendid lagoon.

It is particularly known for being a cleaning station at manta rays and a place where the turtles come to lay eggs.


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# The mantas rays of Sangalaki

6Black manta (Derawan)-minSangalaki is what is called a " cleaning station " at manta rays. That's a place where manta rays gather to be "cleansed" by the fish cleaners. The latter rid them of their parasites, dead skin, damaged tissue ...

2Manta - side close (Derawan)-minI did 2 dives and 2 snorkeling with the mantas rays of Sangalaki. I saw 10th of mantas each time!! On a dive I had to see 30 !!!

They pass, they iron, they turn, they arrive at 2 on you then part, they pass below you at the queueleuleuAn exceptional show!

To get all the good info on how to dive with the manta rays of Sangalaki I advise you to read the full article on Sangalaki

# Sangalaki manta ray video

# Sangalaki manta ray pictures

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# Diving to Sangalaki

In my opinion, apart from the manta rays it's not worth doing other dives Sangalaki. It is worth better dive in Maratua or Kakaban.

# Sangalaki dive sites

carte site de plongee sangalaki-min (2)

# Sangalaki best dive sites: Manta Avenue and Manta Parade

As their name suggests, these are two sites where you will have most likely to be on the passage of mantas rays.

# Sangalaki: a turtle sanctuary

sangalaki turtle 1-minSangalaki is one of those islands where turtles are born and return to lay their turn. So you have (in addition to manta rays) turtles all around Sangalaki !

There is a turtle conservation program on the island. They collect turtle eggs and protect predators.


#Overview #Presentation #Derawan #Sangalaki #Manta rays #Kakaban #Jellyfish lake #Maratua #Advice #Conditions and seasons #Dive centers #Accommodation #Get to #My diving review


# The island of Kakaban

If you come to Derawan Islands, a day trip to Kakaban is mandatory, of course to dive, but especially to live a unique experience: snorkel with harmless jellyfish !


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# A lake of harmless jellyfish

In the middle of the island of Kakaban is therefore a very particular lake, filled with harmless jellyfish. There is no that two places in the world proposing this particularitySo, Kakaban and Koror Island on Palau.

  • Origin of this phenomenon22Jellyfish (Derawan)-min
    This lake was originally a lagoon surrounded by a coral atoll but a geological movement millions of years ago lifted the atoll, creating this lake cut off from the ocean and imprisoning all these marine inhabitants. In addition to jellyfish, there are other species like sea cucumbers, crustaceans, anemones, nudibranchs that have also adapted to this new ecosystem.
  • Why are Kakaban jellyfish harmless?
    Jellyfish having more predators (turtles, tuna ...), they have little by little lost their natural system of defensethey do not sting anymore! So you can touch them nothing will happen!
    Do not hesitate to go far from the edge, the further you go, the more jellyfish.
  • Kakaban Jellyfish Lake Infokakaban-jellyfish3
    • number of jellyfish: thousands!
    • 4 different species of jellyfish are present
    • maximum depth: 17m
    • size: 5km2
    • visibility: quite small (5-10m)
    • a mixture of seawater and rainwater
    • other species in the lake: sea cucumbers, nudibranchs, gobies ...


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# Diving in Kakaban

On Kakaban, you have to dive in Barracuda point, it's the best site on the island. The others are not not very interesting for confirmed divers.

# Kakaban dive sites

carte site de plongee kakaban-min

# Kakaban best dive site: Barracuda point

A site subject to the current, where the eagle frequently pass, reef sharks are always in the game and of course we meet barracudas !

#Overview #Presentation #Derawan #Sangalaki #Manta rays #Kakaban #Jellyfish lake #Maratua #Advice #Conditions and seasons #Dive centers #Accommodation #Get to #My diving review


# Maratua island

The island is very large, U-shaped upside down and is extended by a submerged reef. Less populated than Derawan, she is mainly inhabited by fishermen. There are some resorts (the Maratua paradise resort for example). It is possible to stay there, but the island is really very underdevelopedso I'm not sure this is the best place.

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# Diving in Maratua

Apart from the mantas of Sangalaki, the dives of Maratua are the best of the Derawan area. The must-visit site is Big fish country (or the Channel), to do absolutely!

# Maratua dive sites

carte site de plongee maratua-min

# Maratua best dive site: Big fish country or "the channel"

5barracuda - huge school (Derawan)-min

The site where there is the strongest current around Maratua. For this dive you will arrive to the canal entrance and you "park" with a crocher and will only have admire the show in front of you! There is a huge school of barracudas and resident jacks, eagle who can pass, reef sharks and gray sharks that crisscross, rifle benches, from rainbow runners ... To do absolutely but only for confirmed! 

Other recommended sites by the locals: Small fish country (Passade of eagle rays), Shark point (sharks) and Turtle bay (Turtles).


# Price and organization

So that's what was the hardest to handle for me : not many centers diving, not many other divers and access to the islands (Sangalaki, Kakaban and Maratua) which is quite expensive :

  • Price of a dive : 300,000 RP
  • Trip Derawan-Sangalaki (to share among the number of people): 1,5M RP
  • Trip Derawan-Kakaban (to share among the number of people): 1.8M RP
  • Trip Derawan-Maratua (to share among the number of people): 2,5M RP

# What I advise you:

  • 1 or 2 days in Sangalaki : 1 day diving for example and a day snorkeling.
  • 1 day in Kakaban : this lake of harmless jellyfish is still very particular, it is a unique experience. In addition you pair it with 2 dives on Kakaban (you have to do absolutely Barracuda point).
  • 1 day in Maratua : do absolutely Big fish country, great site.
#Overview #Presentation #Derawan #Sangalaki #Manta rays #Kakaban #Jellyfish lake #Maratua #Advice #Conditions and seasons #Dive centers #Accommodation #Get to #My diving review


  • Derawan diving season, Kakaban, Maratua : all year but the rainy season and from December to March.
  • Sangalaki mantas season: 18Manta - side close (Derawan)-min March to November.
    Best time  : seems to be 3-4 days before and after the full moon (see Sangalaki article here).
  • Rainy season : December to March. Being located almost at the equator level, the Derawan Islands are very little subject to typhoons or other tropical storms.
  • Temperature water 28-30 °.
#Overview #Presentation #Derawan #Sangalaki #Manta rays #Kakaban #Jellyfish lake #Maratua #Advice #Conditions and seasons #Dive centers #Accommodation #Get to #My diving review


So that's one of the problems in the Derawan area, not many dive centers.

  • The 2 biggest dive centers in Derawan are Derawan dive lodge and Derawan dive resortderawan dive lodge-min
  • Scuba junkie : Since my passage, Scuba Junkie has opened a center on Derawan (they also have centers to Sipadan and Komodo). I did not dive with them, but they did very good reputation.
  • Derawan ocean divers : I dipped with them, everything went well. It is rather a "local" center, they will surely not be at the level of service quality of the other 3 higher but nice and flexible.

In general, if you want to book your center in advance you can use spotmydive. If you book with them, you can give the code " TONY"You'll get 5% off and me 5% commission (so I'm transparent with you").

#Overview #Presentation #Derawan #Sangalaki #Manta rays #Kakaban #Jellyfish lake #Maratua #Advice #Conditions and seasons #Dive centers #Accommodation #Get to #My diving review


derawan dive resort-min.jpg

#Overview #Presentation #Derawan #Sangalaki #Manta rays #Kakaban #Jellyfish lake #Maratua #Advice #Conditions and seasons #Dive centers #Accommodation #Get to #My diving review


With all airports on Borneo, there is a lot of possibilities to get to Derawan.

Se rendre derawan-min

# Getting to Borneo

First, you will have to land on Borneo, for this several options: Kota Kinabalu, Terakan, Balikpapan, Berau, Tawau.

# Go to Tanjung Batu

  • Arriving in Berau The easiest way is to get to Berau by plane.
    • Since then Balikpapan : which is a bigger airport.
    • Either directly from big cities around (Bali, Jakarta, Lombok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore ...) with Garuda Indonesia in particular.
  • Berau to Tanjung Batu: the easiest way is to take a taxi (around 2-3h / 500 000 RP).
  • Take a boat to Tanjung Batu (30 min)
    Once in Tanjung Batu, you will have to take a boat to go to Derawan (or Maratua). So, it's not organized like in other destinations in Indonesiathere is no no public boat. It will take take a private speedboat.
    It will take surely negotiate and be patient (Speed boats leave when they are full).
    A reasonable price seems to be 200,000 RP, but they will surely announce 350 000 RP at the beginning ...

# Another solution: boat from Terakan to Derawan

I did not do it so I do not have any info, but I know that you can take a boat from Terakan to Derawan directly (3-4h).

If you already know where you go to sleep, the best is really organize transport from Berau to Derawan with your accommodation (taxi + boat).

#Overview #Presentation #Derawan #Sangalaki #Manta rays #Kakaban #Jellyfish lake #Maratua #Advice #Conditions and seasons #Dive centers #Accommodation #Get to #My diving review


I'm not disappointed with my visit to Derawan, dive with the manta rays of Sangalaki will be unforgettable and the jellyfish lake was of course a unique experience. Then, purely diving, apart from Big fish country on Maratua, which is a great site and Barracuda point on Kakaban, the quality of the sites is far from what I could see elsewhere in Indonesia (Raja Ampat, Komodo, Bira...). In addition, the organization to go to the dive sites has not always been very simple. I will not recommend Derawan to everyone.

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